Most of us associate stretch marks with pregnancy, but did you know that’s not the only cause of stretch marks? Stretch marks are simply lines or stripes that appear on the skin when someone goes through a rapid weight gain or loss. It is most common among women post-pregnancy or rapid weight gain, although it may happen to men and teenagers as well.
The thing with stretch marks is that even though they’re harmless, they might pose to trigger self-esteem issues in some people because of the beauty standards these days.
If you are here looking for solutions to get rid of your stretch marks, you have come to the right place. But, before we get into that, I want to tell a little story that will help you change your view about stretch marks.
While growing up, I was always fascinated by the stretch marks on my father's upper arm. He used to tell me all sorts of tales made up around it. Once, he said that those were scars he got when he was caught up in a fistfight with a tiger. He said that he killed the tiger, but it left him with these scars that he wore with pride. I never believed him, of course, but I would be lying if I were to tell you that I was never fascinated by those stretch marks of his.
We’ll be talking in detail about stretch marks and even discuss some natural remedies to help you with stretch marks, but the point of this story is to remind you that your scars make you human and tell a story. It's your choice to let those scars affect your esteem or to wear them with pride.
Stretch marks are long and narrow stripes or lines that appear on the skin when the skin is suddenly stretched or stretched too quickly. They usually occur on the stomach, thighs, hips, upper arms, back, etc. Stretch marks are a type of scarring that occurs when the skin is not able to resume normal form after a spurt of intense growth like in the case of pregnancy, weight gain or loss or puberty.
In short, extreme skin shrinkage or growth is the main cause of stretch marks. Some people are more prone to having stretch marks based on conditions such as family history, chronic conditions or BMI.
Popular causes of stretch marks include:
If you have stretch marks on your skin, by now, you might have been able to identify the cause for your stretch marks. With an understanding of the different types of stretch marks, you might have questions like - Are all these stretch marks the same? Are these stretch marks permanent, or can they be treated? We’ll answer all these questions in the upcoming section.
Stretch marks can be classified into two broad categories, namely Striae rubrae and Striae albae. Don't get scared by the complicated names. We'll try to explain them to you in brief.
Striae rubrae stretch marks are usually pink or reddish in appearance and are an acute stage of stretch marks. It is the earliest indication of an over-expanded dermis. These stretch marks are generally flattened and form a perpendicular or parallel pattern. If you develop these stretch marks, then you might experience some itching as well.
Striae albae stretch marks are more chronic as compared to striae rubrae, and in this case, the stretch marks are more scar-like, irregularly shaped, and pigmented. They are usually white and faded and may develop a fine, wrinkly texture to it.
So, how long does it take for a striae rubrae stretch mark to turn into a striae albae stretch mark? Well, it can take anywhere from a month to even years for the skin to go from acute to chronic stage of stretch marks.
These stretch marks can further be classified into striae gravidarum which are pregnancy stretch marks, striae atrophicans appear on people suffering from Cushing's syndrome and striae caerulea stretch marks that develop on darker skin.
Now that we know about the different types of stretch marks, let’s address the next important question.
There are various ways to fade stretch marks from your body, but nothing beats the classic old home remedies. However, it's important to note that some stretch marks are harder to fade than others. The good thing about trying out natural solutions is that they are entirely harmless. Even if they don't fade away from your stretch marks completely, you'll be left with nourished skin.
So, here are some of the home remedies to help you get rid of stretch marks:
Aloe Vera has been used in skin and beauty products since the very beginning. It has many miraculous healing properties and is known to help regenerate the skin. Extract fresh Aloe Vera gel from the leaf and massage it over the stretch marks, leaving it on for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash it off and pat dry. Repeat it daily, and you will notice the results within a few weeks.
Castor oil, when massaged into the dry, shriveled up stretch marks, provide it with nourishment and moisture, and helps to heal the skin slowly. You can massage your skin with castor oil during the day and night to get noticeable results. Keeping the scars moisturized will even eventually make them less visible.
Both Almond oil and Coconut oil have excellent healing properties, so what’s better than a combination of the two? You can mix almond oil and coconut oil in equal proportions and massage it onto the stretch marks regularly, and the stretch marks will disappear in no time.
Lemon is known for its lightning and healing properties, and cucumber acts as a cooling agent. Mix lemon juice and cucumber paste in equal quantities and apply it to the skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes and wait for it to get soaked into the skin. Then wash off and pat dry.
Egg whites are high in proteins and amino acids. When applied to the skin, egg whites not only lighten the stretch marks but also tightens the skin. To use egg whites for fading stretch marks, simply take egg white from to eggs and apply a thick layer on the stretch marks with the help of a makeup brush. Allow the egg whites to dry completely then rinse this area with water. You might need to repeat the process daily for at least about two weeks to get results.
Potato juice contains a variety of enzymes and starch that lighten the skin, which is the reason why it is used to treat dark spots, blemishes, and pigmentation of the skin. Apply potato juice on the skin regularly to lighten and reduce stretch marks.
Rich body butter such as Cocoa butter and Shea butter help in reducing stretch marks, especially pregnancy stretch marks. Massage cocoa butter over pregnancy stretch marks at night before sleeping religiously and watch your stretch marks fade away in a few weeks.
Exfoliating the skin will remove dead skin cells and help in fading out the stretch marks. It also makes way for other skin treatments to penetrate the skin faster and work more effectively. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, and sugar to form a scrub. Apply it on the stretch mark and rub it for a good 10 minutes. Rinse it with lukewarm water.
Apricots are high in vitamins A, B, and C. Take two fresh apricots and grind them to form a smooth paste. Apply the paste directly on the affected area and leave it on for half an hour before washing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat it regularly to see the desired results.
Gotu kola is a herb that has been used in traditional Indonesian, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicine. It is known to cure a variety of skin conditions like scars, pigmentation, and rashes. A study found that this herb increases collagen production, which increases the elasticity of the skin. This can heal stretch marks and prevent new ones from forming. Just make a smooth paste out of this herb and apply it daily on the affected area.
Black tea is rich in vitamins and minerals that can treat skin pigmentation. Boil a few tablespoons of black tea with a pinch of salt added to it. Let it cool down and then apply the mixture on the stretch marks. Repeat the process for a few weeks until the stretch marks disappear entirely.
Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily improves the elasticity of the skin and helps reduce stretch marks.
Vitamin C contains antioxidants that cause skin scars to heal faster. Hence, adequate intake of vitamin C will ensure that your stretch marks heal faster. Citrus fruits, peas, pineapples, spinach, tomatoes, are all excellent sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin E is also a rich source of antioxidants that fight free radicals and provides nourishment to the skin. Foods like avocado, papaya, pumpkin, hazelnuts, parsley, olives are excellent sources of vitamin E. Bone broth of chicken, lamb, or beef is a natural source of gelatin. Gelatin contains collagen, which improves skin elasticity.
Foods like chia seeds, cod liver oil, tofu, sardines, shrimps, cauliflower are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that also help to improve the elasticity of the skin, thereby reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
The science of Ayurveda recommends that women use special Ayurvedic oils for massage during pregnancy to get rid of stretch marks, to get relief from stress, to regulate hormones, and facilitate childbirth.
One such oil is Dhanwantharam Thailam. The unique composition of the oil with Ayurvedic ingredients such as Ashwagandha, Sesame seeds, Manjishtha, and Geranium makes it an effective traditional concoction with many benefits for expecting mothers.
Do you know that the name of this oil comes from the God of Ayurveda, Dhanvantri? The oil has special significance for mothers. Not only it provides relief from pain and fatigue, but it also boosts overall energy and immunity. Massage during pregnancy with Dhanwantharam Thailam helps to strengthen the muscles and makes them strong enough to hold the fetus, which later helps in facilitating childbirth.
It works effectively to remove stretch marks because it has a high rich Vitamin E content. It keeps skin dehydration and flakiness at bay, improves skin elasticity, and prevents stretch marks. Massage the oil for at least 10-15 minutes to allow it to penetrate deeper into the skin and remove deposits close to the muscle. Leave on for at least 30 minutes and wash off with a mild body cleanser.
Here’s a video that shows how to use Dhanwantharam Thailam for massage.
Kama Ayurveda also recommends Muscle Tone Firming Treatment Oil to fade stretch marks caused by pregnancy. Apart from fading stretch marks, this oil also works towards treating sagging skin. Hence, it’s also used to tone breasts and abdominal muscles. With potent Ayurvedic ingredients like Sesame Oil, Clarified Butter, Sweet Flag, Turmeric, and Lavender, it helps in reducing the appearance of stretch marks on the abdominal and lower back regions. Massage warmed Muscle Tone Firming Treatment for 10-15 minutes daily for best results.
The time taken for stretch marks to fade varies depending on whether these stretch marks are acute or chronic. Acute stretch marks that are pinkish-red in colour fade away faster than chronic stretch marks that are deep and white. It also depends on the type of treatment used and the dietary supplements consumed. Each one’s skin is different, and the time taken will also differ depending on the elasticity of the skin and various other factors.
While we cannot permanently remove stretch marks, stretch marks usually fade away within 6 to 12 months, provided you are taking good care of your skin. Following your skin's dietary requirements and religiously practicing the home remedies listed above can improve the skin's elasticity and heal the scars faster. Drinking lots of water will make the skin more supple and nourished, thus fastening the healing process.
Prevention is always better than cure. It is better to avoid getting stretch marks in the first place rather than worrying about getting rid of them. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid or prevent the appearance of stretch marks on your skin:
To conclude, we’ve also summarised some of the clinical treatments and procedures that help in removing stretch marks. These are not natural treatments or remedies and hence, they can have side effects. It's essential to consult a dermatologist and seek medical advice before going forward with them.
Home remedies are the ideal type of treatment, but you ought to be patient and persistent in seeing the results. Stretch marks are usually harmless and not a cause of concern. It may pose to be a self-esteem issue, but again, it's as I already mentioned at the beginning of the article, it's your choice whether to wear your scars with pride or to be ashamed of them.
Shreya Dalela is a certified Yoga instructor and a professional dancer trained at The Danceworx. She’s passionate about Ayurveda and holistic living with over 6 years of experience in doing extensive research and content creation in the domain.
An ayurveda doctor with 14 years of experience in yoga, panchakarma and general wellness. Currently working with Kama Ayurveda, analysing and remediating dermatological concerns and queries of the consumers via in-store, virtual and IVR consultation.